Senior loneliness tends to increase during the holiday season, but there are simple things caregivers can do to make sure their loved ones feel included in the festivities even if they aren’t able to be physically present. Learn more about senior loneliness, why it matters and what you can do.
Why does loneliness increase in seniors during the holidays?
There are many reasons for this increase in senior loneliness during the holidays. One is limited physical mobility. Your loved one may be confined to their home and unable to leave to join in the celebrations in-person.
There’s also the added factor of holiday nostalgia. Not being able to participate in family traditions can increase holiday loneliness as seniors remember good times when they were able to participate. There’s also the nostalgia of lost friends as seniors may be dealing with the grief of losing people close to them whom they celebrated with in past years. Seniors may revisit memories of holidays and long for earlier times when they could celebrate in person with family and friends.
What can caregivers do to combat holiday loneliness?
If you have a senior loved one unable to celebrate in-person, video conferences are a great alternative. This has become a popular option during the pandemic due to social distancing guidelines. Many caregivers have invested in technology for their loved ones to Facetime or Zoom with family, an important habit to keep up even outside of the holidays.
However, some seniors aren’t tech savvy and may not have an interest in learning. In those cases, it’s important to remember to call them on the phone. Let them hear your voice, or maybe even sing carols.
If a senior in your life lives nearby, make an effort to go see them. Consider taking them a meal or old photos and videos to bring back pleasant memories.
Why is it important to combat senior loneliness, and what are the risks associated with it?
Senior loneliness can lead to depression and mental isolation, so it’s important we do what we can to not only be proactive about preventing these mental health issues but also know the warning signs to look out for if it’s time to intervene. Some symptoms to be mindful of are mental detachment, a loss of interest in life or things they’re normally passionate about, increased stress levels and even heart and stroke issues.
How VNA can help with your senior's loneliness.
VNA offers a program called Visit-A-Bit, which pairs seniors with volunteers who visit them once a week for conversation and friendship-building activities. Especially during times of holiday loneliness, it’s important that seniors have somebody to talk to about holiday traditions and memories. For more information on how to sign up a loved one, visit https://visitabit.org/.